Dodd Calls for New National Effort to Assess and Improve Well-being of America's Children

June 9, 2010

Calls for New National Effort to Assess and Improve the Well-Being of America’s

Washington D.C. - Today (June 8, 2010), at the commencement of a series
of hearings focused on the state of children in America, Senate Children and
Families Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-CT) called for the
creation of a National Commission on Children, a new federal effort to
address the challenges facing our nation’s children.

The Commission on Children would act as
a report card, annually assessing the status of America’s children and
providing recommendations for how to best improve child well-being. Further, it
would serve as a forum on behalf of children and ensure that the needs of the
next generation remain a top priority at the federal level.

At the hearing, Chairman Dodd and
Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Robert Casey (D-PA)
cited a number of negative trends for children as grounds for creating the
Commission, including results from the 2010 Child Well-Being Index,
released earlier today by the Foundation for Child Development. The Child
Well-Being Index, which assess annually how the well-being of America’s
children has improved or deteriorated over time, shows that the number of
American children living in poverty will climb to 22 percent this year.

“It is unacceptable that one in five
American children is living in poverty, 30 percent of students fail to graduate
from high school, and 8 million children lack health insurance. A coordinated,
national action plan to improve child well-being is necessary to raise the
visibility of children in federal policy, solidify our commitment to the
nation’s future, and ensure that we can meet the needs of the next generation,”
said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a bipartisan
children’s advocacy organization. “We commend Senator Dodd for his efforts to
draw attention to the state of America’s children by holding these hearings and
calling for the creation of a National Commission on Children.”

In her testimony at today’s hearing,
America’s Promise Alliance Board Chair Alma Powell voiced her support
for adopting a new National Commission on Children by pointing to a report
issued by a former Commission on Children in 1991. The issuance of the report
led to the enactment of the Child Tax Credit, improvements to the Earned Income
Tax Credit, and creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, among
other significant policy advances for children.

Powell testified, “The creation of a permanent commission tasked with
annually assessing the status of children will ensure continuous, measurable
benefits for our nation’s most precious resource.”